Some Thoughts On: Vampire Princess Miyu (1996 – 1997) TV Series

On March 9, 2018  I finally finished the 26 episode anime series called Vampire Princess Miyu. In Vampire Princess Miyu, the title character is the focus of the anime, and shows her cursed to her duty to eliminating the stray Shinmas (demons basically) for all eternity. I started this anime around the same time I started Hell Girl Season 1. Both anime are named after the stoic, immortal female lead cursed to fulfill a otherworldly duty. Unlike Hell Girl season 1 which I liked from the first episode. Vampire Princess Miyu took around 5 episodes before I could enjoy watching it. The first episode isn’t good, and simply gives off a bad impression. Visual storytelling is messy, the human characters introduced become irrelevant after the episode ends, and very little key elements of the anime are established. It’s pretty lame until a giant demonic lizard makes an appearance. Episode 2 through 4 continue the trend for a bit, but episode 2 shows more of its promising side. For starter, some recurring characters are introduced, its formula is properly set up this time, and the episode has a pretty good ending. While episode 3 & 4 didn’t do much either to improve my impression of the anime.

When I finally got to episode 5 the series finally nailed it. The formula worked in its favor for once; the story the episode told was interesting, and just like episode 2, had a good ending to it. Episode 5 basically has Miyu, and her friends attempting to figure out what happened to a director’s unfinished film, and figure out what happened to the film’s leading actress. The supernatural elements work in nicely with this episode where in previous episodes it didn’t quite fit into them. Along with taking a unexpected direction it also touches on the future not turning out how the director desire it to be, and facing the consequences of his inability to move on from the past. Granted it doesn’t go in depth into this because not all 24 minutes are dedicated to that subject, but makes it feel balance with the desired minimal fantastical elements compared to the previous 4 episodes.

Much like Hell Girl, Vampire Princess Miyu is also an episodic series, but without an overarching story for most of it run. Episodic series typically have this trait, and here it comes with just about the same mixed results. Without an overarching story, Miyu, and her demonic slaying companions are simply wondering around Japan until they come across a Shinma, stary demons whom wonder into the human world creating chaos. Resulting in a anime while intriguing for me to watch had no urgency during its duration. For starter, the main cast of characters are hardly developed. Only Miyu, and her Shinma slaying partner Larva (also a Shinma) are given characterization randomly in the anime. Not to the point where I cared about their livelihood, but enough to keep my interest. However, nearly everyone else in the series is one dimensional. With a monster of the week setup characters are introduced, and typically killed within the same episode. Recurring characters that do make a appearance, like Miyu schoolmates are sidelined, and just there to provide some info of Shinma chaos through rumors.

So, with the lack of characterization for a majority of the cast, and repetitive episodic nature simply meanadering without an overarching story what kept me watching were the Shinmas. In certain episodes, seeing a Shinma cause trouble for humans, or seeing from the victim point of view the Shinma evil doings could be really engaging. For example, episode 9 (one of the best episodes) shows a couple adopting their neighbor cat, and showing it slowly tearing them apart. Unlike Hell Girl which tried to be scary, Vampire Princess Miyu can at least capture the horror-eque atmosphere it’s going for. The best example of good writing in the series is episode 11, and displaying the focus character psychology in his certain predicament. Besides receiving a new face from a Shinma, the focused character also begins what can be best described as sleep killing. The story episode 11 tell can have an entire series build around thanks to how well the execution of a simple idea was handle.

Miyu, despite being her voice actresses being stoic in the English dub was a character I couldn’t help, but like. Could be that I might have a thing for stoic, immortal female leads since I also liked Ai Enma (Hell Girl herself) from Hell Girl a good deal. Being such a drastic departure from your typical Vampires, it’s refreshing seeing a vampire who can wield fire, and occasionally fights demon. She also has empathy towards the human suffering from the Shinma which the anime goes into great detail into showing that side of her. It’s made a point in the anime early on Miyu does take blood from humans, and also has the ability to give certain humans “Sweat Dreams” forever to eventually die after sucking their blood. Of course, with the stoic voice actresses playing Miyu, it works in its favor when Miyu is cold towards certain Shinmas. I remember one episode where Miyu simply tells a very slow aging woman whom consumed Mermaid flesh to become immortal, and is afraid of dying. Miyu simply doesn’t reject the old lady plead to ease her suffering when ending her prolong life, but tells that’ll she simply have to suffer like every other human being until her very last dying breath. Outwardly, Miyu rarely shows the more conflict side of her emotions, but nonetheless I ended liking the character despite my better judgement.

If you’re craving some good demon slaying action look elsewhere since the action sequences in Vampire Princess Miyu are easily the weakest scenes in the anime. Besides having little in the way of fight choreography the same thing happens in nearly all of them. Larva comes into to save Miyu primarily with psychical attacks, and Miyu finishes off the Shinma quickly by burning them. No strategies are involved in the fight making them lame to witness. Only two fights in the anime are okay, though if it primarily desired to be an action series I would have been harsher on these sequences.

The only thing that somewhat positively stands out this anime would be the music. Dance of the Shinma, the series opening theme composed by Kenji Kawai, is a great tune that sets the mood for the series. I also like the limite usage of piano in the song, especially when it plays along the singing choir. It simply makes a joy to listen too. In series, the music helps set the atmosphere, and does a great job of creating this otherworldly sense when viewing it.

Other than that, I could touch on the English dub which is bad. The cast I felt was fine, but the performances of the voice cast leaves a lot to be desired. I could have just switched to the english subs to make some kind of comparison, but I didn’t since if I got the option I’ll go with a English dub. Even a subpar English dub like the one for this anime is more preferable for me when just casually watching anime. There’s also the 4 episode OVA also with the same name that I saw a long time ago before checking this series. Simply put, I can’t say much on that since it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I can say for certain when I saw the 4 episode OVA of Vampire Princess Miyu that I didn’t like it. It nearly put me to sleep. Speaking of which, this anime series can also have that effect on viewers since it doesn’t change it formula. The same things might not be happening, but it certainly feels the same once you’ve seen more than 4 episodes.

I’ll close out another one of these scattershot impression, though upon re-reading this particular piece it certainly sound like (to me also) that I disliked the anime more than I liked. On very rare occasions, sometime something of average, or lower quality I end up liking for the positives despite the elitist in me telling me I simply shouldn’t. With Vampire Princess Miyu tv series, all it took to fall on my good side was simply provide me some stuff I can enjoy for 24 minutes. Enough so that I can forgive it faults whenever they showed up, and it succeeded. It didn’t keep improving like I wanted it too, but I’ll take an anime I find to simply be alright over the dozen, and dozen of bad animes I’ve seen.

If I were to rate Vampire Princess Miyu TV series I would rate it a 6 out of 10.

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